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Ad of the Day: StubHub


StubHub’s unnerving Ticket Oak is back, and this time the arboreal altruist is in the throes of acute caffeine intoxication.

As seen in a new 30-second spot created by agency of record Duncan/Channon, Ticket Oak overdoes it with the lattes, leading to a frenzy of “leaf”-shedding and eye-goggling. “D- d- d- do you wanna sit in the dugout?” the overstimulated oak asks his cackling human foil, before offering passes to the local Shakespeare festival.

After manically rhapsodizing about an upcoming reggae concert, Ticket Oak effectively vomits a torrent of empty paper cups onto his human companions. While coffee is clearly the tree’s drug of choice, the wobbling eyeballs and his “I can’t feel my bark!” lament suggest something darker. (Cocaine hydrolysis? Walter White’s Blue Meth?)

The bug-eyed tree’s offer to hook up his pals with Shakespeare and reggae ducats is of a piece with the brand’s desire to transcend its status as the premiere secondary ticket market for sporting contests by developing an exchange for passes to cultural events. 

Kooky is Duncan/Channon’s stock-in-trade and this spot dials it up to 11. “We think the popular success of the Ticket Oak comes from the fact that it’s just wonderfully weird,” said Parker Channon, executive creative director of Duncan/Channon. “So our goal for this year’s effort was simple: Take the weird and crank it up even higher to ensure our audience gets the discovery message in the most memorable way possible.”

That message is going to reach the far corners of the media universe, as the StubHub spot will appear all over the TV dial, and across all dayparts. Buys have been made across an array of broadcast and cable networks, including ABC, NBC, ESPN, Adult Swim, AMC, Comedy Central, E!, FX, NHL Network, TBS, TNT, USA Network and VH1. The spot will begin airing today.

As StubHub has formal relationships in place with Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, April is an ideal time for the eBay unit to launch a new spot. Not only is today Opening Day of the 2013 MLB season, but both the NBA and NHL are gearing up for their respective playoff showcases.

In terms of specific program buys, look for the Ticket Oak spot to appear during ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, TBS’s Sunday afternoon game and in TNT’s first-round coverage of the NBA playoffs. StubHub has also bought time in NBC Sports’ presentation of the NHL playoffs, which begin April 30. The spot will air through the Eastern and Western Conference Finals (mid-May).

One can only hope that Roger Sterling doesn’t get an eyeful of the new Ticket Oak spot. The last time we saw the silver-haired advertising exec, he was on an LSD-fueled voyage of self-discovery. This new ad, which is set to air on AMC during the April 7 Season 6 premiere of Mad Men, could prove to be a bit too much for the Sterling Draper Cooper Pryce senior partner.

Other outlets set to carry the spot include all four of NBC’s late-night franchises: The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Last Call With Carson Daly and Saturday Night Live. The ad will also air during upcoming installments of Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC.

Version 2.0 of the campaign, which first launched in May 2011, looks to build on its early success. Last April, StubHub’s traffic increased 53 percent versus the year-ago period, while visits in May grew 60 percent.

Along with its aggressive TV campaign, StubHub also will run full-page Ticket Oak ads in Rolling Stone, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly.

Last year, the company invested $31.9 million in measured media, down 22 percent from 2011. Per Kantar Media data, StubHub’s national cable spend was $8.16 million, up 49 percent from the previous year, while broadcast spend was $6.18 million, up 45 percent.

StubHub in 2012 sharply curtailed its online spending, reducing its display spend 75 percent ($3.31 million), while cutting back of search by 25 percent ($4.62 million). The company also drastically reduced its radio and outdoor investments.

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